UPDATE: May, 20, 2020:The California Public Banking Option Act, AB 1177 (Santiago), also known as BankCal, on Thursday passed the State Assembly’s Appropriation Committee and will now be headed for a floor vote on June 3.

April 29, 2021

Sacramento, CA – Today, a coalition of nearly 200 racial and economic justice groups, faith-based organizations, businesses, and labor unions celebrated the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee’s approval of the California Public Banking Option Act, AB 1177 (Santiago), also known as BankCal. The landmark legislation provides access to zero-cost, zero-penalty check cashing, direct deposit, automatic bill pay, and debit card accounts to Californians who choose to participate in the program. BankCal creates a public financial services option for the one in four California households and nearly half of Black and Latino California households who lack a bank account or pay a high price for basic financial transactions like check cashing.

“The pandemic has shined a spotlight on how Black and Latino communities are being left behind by a financial services system that’s motivated by profits, rather than uplifting our communities,” said Asm. Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), lead author of AB 1177. “BankCal will allow more families to keep their hard-earned money and put it toward putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads, and recovering from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.”

“Our leaders must respond to the urgent needs of families struggling to get by, and the committee’s approval of BankCal is a step forward in transforming our economy from one steeped in inequality to one that thrives in equity and opportunity for all,” said Joseph Bryant, SEIU 1021 President and SEIU California Executive Board member. “BankCal levels the playing field, so that everyone – no matter how much money they make, the color of their skin, or where they live – can fully participate in our recovery.”

“During the deadliest months of the pandemic the world’s largest banks made billions in profits from overdraft charges,” said Trinity Tran, Lead Organizer of the California Public Banking Alliance. “BankCal eliminates the need for predatory and high-cost services offered by big banks, pawn shops, payday lenders, and check-cashing businesses. We thank Committee Chair Assemblymember Tim Grayson and the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee for bringing Californians one step closer to universal access to basic financial services.”

“BankCal addresses growing inequality by securing opportunities for wealth-building for those who need it the most, while reckoning with the racist policies that have plagued our economy and the financial services industry,” said Jyotswaroop Bawa, California Reinvestment Coalition Organizing and Campaigns Director. “By removing the roadblocks to financial stability for communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic and who have endured generations of financial exclusion, we’ll emerge from these unprecedented times stronger and more inclusive than ever before.”

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